Publication Bans: Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Cases


On the morning of the preliminary hearing, the Crown Attorney asked the victim in the sexual abuse case if she wanted to have a publication ban placed on the trial. Until that moment, she did not know that it was possible to protect her identity and shield her life from unwanted invasion due to harmful publicity.

She had taken other steps to protect herself. She had moved, changed her phone numbers, cut of communication with friends and family members, and she had even changed her job because she feared the backlash she would face for seeking justice against her offender. The expenses, the personal losses, the stress and anxiety she felt about the case might have been prevented had she known that she could protect her privacy with a simple request to the court.

In sexual abuse and sexual assault cases, the victim(s) has the right to request a publication ban.

According to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, “the media is constitutionally entitled to publish information about court cases, but there are exceptions to this right. The court may (and frequently must) impose publication bans to protect the fairness and integrity of the case, the privacy or safety of a victim or witness, or the identity of a child or youth.” Under the Criminal Code of Canada, two sections apply to victims in sexual abuse and sexual assault cases. These sections prohibit the publishing, broadcasting or transmitting of information:

Section 486.4 provides for orders restricting publication of information that could identify a complainant or witness in a sexual offence

Section 486.5 deals with publication bans on information revealing the names of victims, witnesses and justice system participants, where the order is deemed necessary for the proper administration of justice

When a publication ban is applied, it is noted in the court record. All case documentation is marked with “”PUBLICATION BAN” and the number(s) of the related section(s) of the Criminal Code is also listed. In addition, when members of the public or the media request access to the court record, Ministry staff must inform them that the case is subject to a publication ban.

This makes it possible for survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault, adults and children, to protect their identity from harmful publicity. Survivors do not need to incur expenses or take extreme steps because the Criminal Code of Canada clearly states the right and provides the tools to protect their identities.

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Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

Filing a Police Report


You have made the choice to file a report about the sexual assault or sexual abuse you have experienced.

Going forward here is some information that we believe will be helpful as you face what may be a difficult experience, especially if you have never been inside of a police station or had any previous contact with the police.

First, and most important, you have the right to be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for your personal dignity and privacy1 by any and all of the individuals you interact with while filing your report.

Second, you have the right to request that the interviewing police officers and any other officials present are of the same gender2 as you (female or male), so that you feel comfortable while filing your report.

Third, your interview with the police will be recorded in three (3) ways: written notes, audio recording and video recording. Do not be intimidated by this process. The audio and video recordings are necessary to have a living account of what happened to you. These recordings may be used as evidence at a later date. At the end of your interview you may be asked to confirm your account of the incident(s) by signing a copy of the statement you have made.

If you are reporting a case of historical sexual assault or long-term sexual abuse, it is important to know that you may be asked why you waited to file a report. Do not be discouraged by this question. Remember that there is no statute of limitations for reporting a sexual assault or sexual abuse in Canada. You are filing your report now because it is the right time for you do so.

Also, if you are asked by the interviewing officer(s) to provide corroboration of this crime, it is important to know that under the Criminal Code of Canada you are not required to provide corroboration. Where an accused is charged with an offence of sexual assault or sexual abuse no corroboration is required for a conviction3.

Fourth, at the end of the interview request the case number for your records. You should also request the names and badge identification numbers of the interviewing officers. This information will be on their business cards. You will need all of this information when you make follow up inquiries about the progress of your case because you have the right to have access to information about the progress of criminal investigations4.

Finally, before you leave the police station request information for support services because you have the right to have access to information concerning services and remedies available to victims5. These services may be available through Victim Services or other agencies within your community. These agencies will either provide you with or help you to locate the emotional and psychological support services you may need as you move forward.

Below you will find the reference notes for the information that has been tagged in this posting.

References:

Points 1,2,4,5 are taken from principles in the Victims’ Bill of Right. They are principles (1),(4),(3) and (2) respectively.

http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/ovss/rights.asp

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_95v06_e.htm

Point 3 is taken from the Criminal Code of Canada which states:

Corroboration not required under the Criminal Code of Canada 274. Where an accused is charged with an offence under section 151, 152, 153, 155, 159, 160, 170, 171, 172, 173, 212, 271, 272 or 273, no corroboration is required for a conviction and the judge shall not instruct the jury that it is unsafe to find the accused guilty in the absence of corroboration.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 274; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 11.

The following Criminal Code offences may apply in sexual abuse situations:

  • Sexual assault (section 271)
  • Sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (section 272)
  • Aggravated sexual assault (section 273)
  • Incest (section 155)

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide